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noisegate 0 Comments Industry News Straight Talking Feb 07, 2017
Julie White IACDS column

Firstly, I want to congratulate Concrete Openings on its 100th issue. It looked fabulous and it was a really nice touch to put the first ever edition inside the magazine.

The faces and the names that appeared in that edition were people I recognised from when I was growing up and first getting involved with the industry. It’s always nice to reminisce but I am not one to look back at the ‘good old days’ with rose tinted glasses because I think we have much to be very cheerful about right now.

World of Concrete was a tremendous success, which, on top of more than 50,000 visitors, saw 51 people register for training events and more than 70 young professionals attend the ‘next generation’ networking reception, which bodes well for the future of the industry.

I was really pleased that, as myself and a colleague from the German association walked around the event we got lots of compliments about the way the IACDS is driving forward and many companies and countries wanting to join.

I would also like to congratulate all of those companies who won Concrete Openings Awards and, once again, showed the ingenuity of those working in our sector.

Apart from that, it was quite cold for Las Vegas but that didn’t stop everyone from having a great time and I think I only ended up having about seven hours sleep throughout the whole of the five days!

We have the IACDS convention coming up in May in Vienna – it’s a spectacular city and we have a great line-up so join us there.

Before that, I am looking ahead to the CSDA Convention in Puerto Rico this March where I have been asked to facilitate a panel event around women in the industry.

They said they wanted somebody outspoken, passionate and with strong views to look after the event – I can’t think why they asked me to do it!!

Actually, I’m really looking forward to it. I think everyone who knows me, gets the fact that I am not someone who believes in pushing women into roles within our industry just to tick a box.

It’s great to see so many women on associations around the world and, when I spoke to a colleague within the association he said that he felt that organisations and companies around the world benefitted in terms of results when they have a mix of men and women on the board.

Our drive to bring more people into the industry should continue to look at ways of attracting more women and I think those females who are already working in our specialism show what they can bring to the industry.

There is plenty of research that shows from an early age, girls and boys are already starting to form stereotypes about what they can be and what they can achieve. 

It’s just a fact that our type of work – especially at operative level – is more likely to attract men. That’s not to say that there are not exceptions. Only recently, I watched in awe is two fit, strong women tore down a stud wall with pick hammers – not only were they good at it, they looked like they were having a whale of a time!

So while we can’t stereotype, we do have to recognise that men and women think differently and, therefore, we have to find ways to be approachable to everyone in order to bring the best talent through.

Of course, not every job demands hard labour and it’s crucial that we get that message across loud and clear – especially to young women and men.

They might not feel cut out for a career as an operative on-site but there are dozens of other disciplines in construction that require the best talent – including estimators, surveyors, bid writers and HR. I must say, we are beginning to see changes as women come into the health & safety and environmental elements of the industry.

As a woman in construction, I was definitely treated differently when I first started out. There were certain clients who I just couldn’t go and see because they wouldn’t take me seriously – not because of anything I’d done but purely because they had a pre-conceived idea of a woman in this industry.

Thankfully, I don’t come across that now – partly because times have changed and partly because I’ve grown stronger over the years and know how to deal with individuals like that.

However, our girls should not have to put up with that from the start and that sort of behaviour is something I think the industry now rejects.

Again, I am not one who tries to suggest that men and women are the same. We’re not, but I think that those differences in the way we think and work can be a huge asset to the industry.

I don’t have all the answers and I certainly hope that by reading this it helps to provoke a few questions and thoughts ahead of the Women in Cutting panel event in Puerto Rico. It’s in all of our interests to bring the best people through into our great industry and to make sure that the next generation is best equipped to meet the challenges of the future head on.

If anyone has any views ahead of that event, please drop me a line at but please make sure you come along to what should be a lively and provocative event. I don’t mind if you even jeer from the back, just make sure you are there.

And, if you can’t make that, please make sure you are registered of the IACDS event in Vienna in May.